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A look at this week's new VIDEO GAMES

As you may have heard, Scarecrow recently started renting out those video games the kids (including us) all seem to enjoy. For a look at this week's new video game titles, here's our special game correspondent Samurai Crow---Madamecrow Anybody with an Xbox should know what I mean when I say the following three words: Welcome back, Agent. Crackdown 2 takes center stage as this week's biggest new release, putting super-human future-cops, known as Agents, back on the streets of Pacific City. Just like last go-round, gangs need to be taken down, glowing orbs need to be fetched from rooftops, and huge cars need to be lifted and thrown. Previously, players could have a blast leaping tall buildings and shooting big guns with one other buddy; now, up to four Agents can combine forces via Xbox Live. Pro tip: get the super-cop gang together to race the 800 meter hurdles... over a bunch of 18-wheelers.
Without extra friends, however, the Crackdown concept shows its age in the sequel, especially in the wake of a similar game from this year: the over-the-top island-hopping of Just Cause 2. Both games put you in a massive world and ask you to kill, ride, fly, kill, get groceries, kill, kill, etc. Thing is, by sheer measurement, Just Cause 2 is the bigger, badder sandbox. For example, no other game lets you shoot a grappling hook thousands of feet into the sky to latch onto a plane, which you can then choose to pilot or bring crashing down to an island paradise. Next time Roger Ebert tries saying that games aren't art, he should get his dukes on one of those macho grappling hooks.
In family-friendlier fare, we've stocked a few Sims games for the Wii this week. Unlike the solitary time-sink of the computer hit, these Wii alterations do well with a couch full of people young and old. Is your family happy and healthy? Then apply your do-right philosophies to the upbringing of cute critters in Sim Animals. Is your family on the Roseanne side of the aisle? Then torture a bunch of forlorn travelers in Sims 2: Castaway to feel better about your dysfunction. Come one, come all.

Also, because our games rollout last week included a few hits from the past, I'd like to spotlight semi-older fare that otherwise slipped through the cracks. For starters, we made sure to stock one of my all-time faves on the Wii: Punch-Out!! Yes, the title includes two exclamation points, presumably because this here's two games in one. Just like the old Nintendo classic, you control a pint-sized boxer named Little Mac as he boxes against charismatic, larger-than-life cultural stereotypes: Russian "drinker" Soda Popinski, French wimp Glass Joe, Canadian woodsman Bear Hugger, American libertarian Ron Paul... kidding on the last one! Anyway, once you beat them all, the game remixes each boxer with a new, more difficult twist, so don't be fooled by the first ending. You gotta defend that belt, Mac!

Next week, I'll touch on a couple more classics, along with the brand-new release of Jake Locker's (presumably) favorite video game, NCAA Football '11. You can read Samurai Crow's inaugural video game post here.

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